As an instructor, have you seen local environments of high crime that would make for a beneficial training scene? With VirTra’s V-Author® program, this can be easily accomplished.

In a nutshell, V-Author is an easy-to-use scenario creation tool that is capable of creating virtually unlimited custom image-based scenarios, skill drills, targeting exercises and firearms training.

Working V-Author

To begin, users can pull an image from the provided background library of specific, real-world environments or upload their own. Instructors can take panoramic photographs of local high-risk locations, scenes of previous judgmental use of force incidents or other locations around town and convert these images into a simulation-ready background through V-Author.

After selecting the background, instructors can drag-and-drop pre-filmed characters onto the environment. This is where VirTra’s technology takes police training to the next level: character assets come programmed with a variety of behaviors and reactions that instructors can program to be triggered by events initiated by the trainee. Characters can also react to each other, scene events or even instructor-driven commands in arbitrarily complex ways. This allows for a virtually unlimited set of potential scenarios, all crafted around the trainer’s need and preference.

Further Customizing Training

However, the training does not stop there. In V-Author, every character is independent and instructors can reuse them in new scenarios or modify their current behavior for a new outcome within the current, existing training scenario. As such, law enforcement trainees can learn from, communicate with and participate in scenarios that are ever-shifting. Training after this manner gives instructors the freedom to create the exact training situations needed by their department, rather than being confined to a limited list of scenarios that other training simulator companies offer.

Remember how we mentioned each character is independent? In addition to having a variety of behaviors, characters are programmed to provide separate reactions based on the hit zone location and weapon type fired by the trainee. For example, characters will respond appropriately for Axon® TASER®, OC and gas reactions, then have an entirely different reaction for a shot to the limb. To further the realism, projectiles can be defined with animation effects such as TASER probe wires unfurling when fired, or gas clouds on impact of a gas grenade.

Debriefing in V-Author

Just like with all VirTra scenarios, in V-Author, debrief is completed through VOS. This allows the instructor to play the situation back at different speeds, scrub the timeline forward or backward, show the placement of shots fired and more. As a training bonus, instructors can save sessions to playback as a training tool at a later time.

This article only covers the beginnings of V-Author. This powerful training tool allows the instructor to design a training regime around local environments and department-specific training needs. For more information, watch our in-depth YouTube video or contact a VirTra Specialist.

Academy training covers an extensive list of training topics. After all, these critical skills are what trainees take into the field as law enforcement: everything from de-escalation to less lethal, tourniquet application to proper interactions with mental illness, and more.

However, while trainees may understand and master the skills in the academy, what are they doing in their department to keep these skills fresh?

Use of Force Simulators

One of the best tools for increasing skills is VirTra’s judgmental use of force simulator. Each simulator is equipped with a wide variety of scenarios, each designed to increase one or more skills. For example, VirTra’s V-VICTA—Virtual Interactive Coursework Training Academy—scenarios are designed to teach specific skills such as Autism Awareness, Contact and Cover, and Active Threat/Active Killer, while other scenarios focus on broader skills including de-escalation, less lethal and marksmanship.

For agencies with a bigger classroom and personnel, the V-300® is the best simulator choice. Its five screens and 300-degree fully immersive training environment ensures time spent in the simulator translates into real-world survival skills. Each scenario surrounds the officer on every side, forcing them to keep their heads on a swivel while learning how to properly interact with the subjects.

Practicing after this manner allows officers to practice skills that need to be refreshed or expounded on. Immersing oneself in a simulator is a great way to practice in a real-world environment while in the safety of a classroom.

V-Marksmanship™ Simulation Training

The V-Marksmanship program is found on every simulator, providing range training without the actual range. This program helps officers who do not have the time to travel to the range, or on days when weather does not permit the best training. Instead, officers can brush up on their marksmanship skills in the comfort of their training room.

In addition to providing a safe and convenient environment, the V-Marksmanship program allows instructors to choose from a variety of targets and courses that are difficult to duplicate elsewhere. Now, officers can train in any weather condition—high wind, heavy fog, snow, etc.—with any combination of targets—pepper poppers, Ivans, etc.

To further increase skill building and transfer, VirTra’s patented recoil kits allow officers to train using their personal duty weapons. Upon adding the drop-in laser recoil kit and CO2 magazine, officers can fully interact with the simulator in a realistic manner.

V-Author® Customizable Training

If there is a specific perishable skill an instructor wants to train on, the V-Author program makes this possible. Instructors can create and edit scenarios customized to any objective or unique department need, thus providing more freedom and less limitation in training.

To begin, instructors upload an image of their local environment or select an image from VirTra’s library. After, characters are added and programmed to behave in certain ways. Upon exporting, trainees can practice their skills in the scenario. Whether your department wants to increase de-escalation training or judgmental use of force, instructors can create scenarios and increase training in that area.


Seasoned officers must refresh valuable skills such as de-escalation, judgmental use of force and less lethal. After all, these critical skills may save their lives and the lives of the civilians they protect. The best way to keep these skills sharp is to practice often in a physically and psychologically realistic setting. Contact a VirTra specialist to learn more.

Extensive De-Escalation Simulation Training

Agencies can effectively maximize their budget and de-escalation training with VirTra simulators. Each simulator is equipped with a wide variety of realistic scenarios, which have true-to-life branching options. Law Enforcement simulators also come with V-VICTA® —IADLEST-certified curriculum— for added training. Instructors can take this to the next level, because with VirTra, instructors have the ability to tailor training to their department’s needs.

Utilize 300-Degree Screens to Set the Scene

Before custom-creating a scenario, instructors need the best system. VirTra recommends the V-300®, the higher standard for decision-making. This simulator features five screens that cover 300-degrees for intense training immersion. The ability to see each side of the situation increases the officer’s ability to observe the situation and make better-informed decisions in a heightened-stress environment.

Invest in Quality Props to Increase Realism

While the 300-degree training simulator is an excellent beginning to creating realistic scenarios, the scene is not complete without props. Adding simple additions like chairs and tables to enhance the scenario improves the training content. After all, it is unlikely active threats will occur in open spaces without obstacles. Placing props throughout the training scenario allows participants to learn how to react and adapt to their surroundings in addition to providing them places to conceal and cover while evaluating threats.

Further Mimic a Real-Life Incident with Return Fire

To maximize your firearms training simulator, consider adding the V-Threat-Fire™. This consequence device simulates hostile actions—such as gunfire, explosions and dog attacks—adding real-world consequences to the training simulation. Combined with props such as walls and tables, trainees can learn where and when to shoot, if necessary. V-Threat-Fire is also instrumental in increasing stress responses and has been shown to result in better outcomes, thus maximizing training sessions.

Expect the Unexpected During Simulation Training

Law enforcement and military personnel learn to expect the unexpected. VirTra’s firearms training simulators help participants to react to “curveballs” with sound judgment, which instructors can manipulate through the scenario’s extensive branching options. These situational curveballs keep participants engaged and constantly adapting to the situation, from rookies to seasoned officers. VirTra’s simulators teach judgmental use of force through these decisions, helping the team learn as much as possible per session.

Create Custom Scenarios to Best Train Your Department

What makes VirTra stand out in the virtual training simulation industry are the endless options for custom scenarios. Instructors can use V-Author® to import a panoramic image of a local scene or select a pre-programmed environment. From there, a library of characters, props, visual effects and animated targets can be added with a click of the mouse.

For example, if an instructor wanted to train officers for threats in a specific neighborhood, they could take a picture of that location and overlay characters in V-Author®. Placing participants in areas they commonly patrol allows them to become familiar with the area and threats that may appear.

End Training with a Debrief

Once the training simulation has completed, learning continues in the form of debrief. Trainers can debrief participants with a rundown of the consequences of their actions, as well as statistics on the number of shots fired and firing stance. After engaging with the simulation and seeing the consequences unfold, law enforcement officers can tailor their responses to earn the best results in the future. Contact VirTra for more information on our system and how it helps train judgmental use of force.